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Federal funding OK’d to secure North County bluffs

Diehl bluff photo.jfif
People walk near the site of a deadly bluff collapse in August at Grandview Beach in Encinitas. Three people on the narrow beach died when a large chunk of sandstone slid off the cliff.
(Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $400,000 for the planning, engineering and design of the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, announced this week.

Congress authorized the project in 2016 after more than 17 years of work by the two cities along with regional, state and federal agencies.

The sand replenishment focuses on Moonlight Beach in Encinitas and Fletcher Cove in Solana Beach. Both beaches would start with large initial sand deposits dredged from offshore, and then would get additional follow-up replenishment every five to 10 years for the life of the 50-year program.

Wider beaches are one of the ways to slow bluff erosion, which leads to unexpected collapses like the one that killed three people Aug. 2 at Grandview Beach in Encinitas, Levin said. Anne Clave, 35, and her mother, Julie Davis, 65, both of Encinitas, died at hospitals soon after the collapse, and Elizabeth Charles, a 62-year-old San Francisco resident and Clave’s aunt, died at the scene.

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“This funding will advance a critical phase of the Encinitas-Solana Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, and effectively unlocks additional funding that local municipalities have pledged to the project,” Levin said in a news release.

“While much more federal funding will be needed to secure our bluffs over the long-term, this is a significant step that was long overdue,” Levin said. “I’ll continue to work with ... local stakeholders to gain additional federal funding needed to make our beaches safe.”

The planning phase of the sand project will need an additional $1.5 million in federal funding. The cost of construction over the life of the project has been estimated at $174 million, most of which would come from federal funding yet to be allocated. The cities involved also pay a share of the costs.

Levin also announced the allocation of $505,000 from the Corps of Engineers for the planning, engineering and design phase of the San Clemente Shoreline Project.

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The San Clemente project focuses on protection for a portion of the coastal rail corridor that connects Los Angeles and San Diego. The railroad tracks in San Clemente are on eroding coastal bluffs, similar to the tracks in Del Mar.

North County Transit District, which owns and maintains the railroad in northern San Diego County, is working with the San Diego Association of Governments on a series of stabilization projects for the tracks on the bluffs in Del Mar. That work also is primarily funded by the federal government.

— Phil Diehl is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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